Two years ago, Gretchen W. Frieling, MD, took a leap of faith.
Dr. Frieling, who trained in anatomic and clinical pathology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital / Harvard Medical School; then completed a dermatopathology fellowship at the University of Vermont Medical Center, was reading skin biopsies at a private derm-path lab in Boston, Mass., when she decided to take the next step in her career.
“Being a dermatopathologist, you’re technically boarded in dermatology and pathology,” Dr. Frieling pointed out. “I’ve always been really interested in skin. I like to work hard and push my limits. I had experience with injectables and aesthetics and decided: I’m going to start my own practice.”
She came up with the logo and her practice name – GFaceMD within days.
“I wasn’t sure if it would stick, but you can always change it, and I wanted to keep moving forward,” Dr. Frieling advised. “Within a couple of weeks, I had my LLC.”
GFaceMD was born in a small room in a nail salon. Yes, a nail salon.
“I had one room. I did it part time. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed with overhead. I didn’t take out any loans,” she shared. “Before I knew it, in a couple of months, there was a line literally out of the nail salon. I was very big in social media and that grew my presence drastically. It exploded so fast.”
Today, GFaceMD is in a much larger office in Wellesley, Mass., includes a full-time aesthetician and keeps growing.
A whiz on Instagram, Dr. Frieling has built a following more than 50,000 strong for her @GFaceMD handle and says her patient base is largely the result of her social media presence.
Dr. Frieling’s practice offers wrinkle relaxers, dermal fillers, fat injections, collagen stimulators and more. But her focus, and what makes her stand out, is her expertise in global rejuvenation via micro-optimization.
“We use very tiny amounts of filler and neurotoxin, which give the best result. So, we really analyze people’s faces globally to see how their muscles work. It is like an orchestra – everything should look harmonious and work together without isolating certain features,” Dr. Frieling stated. “It is all about less is more and really optimizing beauty.”
An entrepreneur’s advice
For Dr. Frieling, going from a pop-up aesthetic practice in a nail salon to a busy and growing cosmetic practice in two years’ time is her biggest professional accomplishment. And she believes she is one of the first pathology trained dermatopathologists to go into aesthetic practice in the U.S.
“I took a leap and put myself out there to be judged and criticized. After I did that, I had multiple people that are dermatopathology trained come to me and say, ‘How did you do it?’ And they have since started practices,” she shared.
Physicians just entering aesthetics should try to avoid comparing themselves to other, bigger practices in the industry, according to Dr. Frieling. Rather, practitioners starting out should focus on how to stand out and be different, while keeping their overhead low.
“Don’t allow obsession over little things like logos and branding things like that stop you,” she said. “I have the 80-20 rule. If I’m 80% sure of any decision, I move forward, knowing I can change a website or change a logo.”
Practitioners should also know that social media is a blessing and a curse.
“Social media, for me, is a big, big deal. Pretty much every patient tells me they found me on Instagram. That’s all great,” she said. “But there are also really mean people on social media. So be careful what you post, use professionalism and treat people with kindness.”
Dr. Frieling has turned her attention to her new faculty positions at national conferences and doing more with the media as a medical correspondent. She has been a medical expert for national media outlets, including Allure and NBC.
She also plans to grow her practice and her GFaceMD skincare line.
Moving forward is the goal.
“Then, who knows? GFaceMD could show up in other states,” she teased.
Three fun facts about Gretchen Frieling, MD:
Q: If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
A. Ice cream, BBQ chips and chocolate.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A. Dirty Dancing.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. Stay humble and keep going.